It is a sunny summer of far less money and a near bed-bound father. No-one suspects our poverty as Mom provides a sixteenth birthday party that everyone enjoys. Food is displayed decoratively. Cocktail sticks bearing cheese and pineapple stand smartly in half an orange. Around a fancy glass of pink Marie-Rose sauce, prawns are arranged. There is an ‘alcoholic’ fruit punch. Mom’s own recipe. A wink and a promise to get everyone drunk. As we prepare the punch together, no alcohol appears. “Ginger beer,” she says. “It’s the secret ingredient. It tastes like you are drinking alcohol”. Fun is had by all. A roomful of sixteen year olds stagger. They giggle. They fall over. They leave, singing Mom's praises for allowing alcohol at an under eighteen’s party. The punch’s non-alcoholic content remains a tight lipped secret.
I am too old for a party at my parents' house at twenty one. In a poorly paid job, there is no money available to hire a room. Ten friends go out together to the local restaurant; having previously agreed to pay for our own meals. The invite had extended to Mom and Dad. Dad is too ill to leave his bed. Mom needs to stay at home; care for him. An envelope had been presented. There is money inside. “We can’t afford to pay for everyone's meals,” the note inside, handwritten by my Dad, said. “But there should be enough for everyone's drinks all night”. By my twenty second birthday, Dad is sadly no longer around.
Five huge tables are filled with food in the hired hall. It is my thirtieth birthday. Mom, I, and a brand new food processor, had prepared it all. My best friend is DJ; he plays my favourite songs. Two hundred guests dance. The disco lights flash. The party rocks. We over-cater. Mom stands by the exit. “Thank you so much for coming” she smiles. Hands them food. “Here’s your complimentary birthday quiche to take home with you.”
A party doesn’t feel appropriate for my fiftieth knowing it could possibly be the last birthday celebration with Mom. I decide on a quiet day, just her and me. Party food is eaten, gin and tonic is drunk. Youtube videos watched. Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Cole Porter songs are softly sung. My present: her beautiful necklace. My favourite. An antique. Over the years we have discussed its elegance; unsure whether it is decorative glass or diamonds and sapphires. I wear it at her funeral. Its value remains a secret. I treasure it with all my heart.
In memory of
(9th September 1928 - 22nd January 2015)
(5th August 1924 - 31st October 1985)
This is my entry for therealljidol
Week 13 - Enjoy Every Sandwich